Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Shanghai Diaries - Japanese Edition, Part 3: Kyoto, Osaka, and Home

From Osaka we trained to Nara, an old city that was also the capital of Japan at one time. We visited more temples there, but having rested from them in Osaka, I was once again fascinated by them.

Like Miyajima, there were tame deer roaming through parts of the city. There were many schoolchildren feeding the deer only to realize that once one deer sees food, the whole lot of them sense it and quickly surround the food bearer. In the park side, two bucks began fighting over something. I, like many others, rushed in to take photographs. The battle raged for a few minutes until the two bucks separated a bit.

Still filled with anger, one buck made a mighty sneer at my brother-in-law and then proceeded to headbutt an older lady who had bent down to tie her shoes. He got her right in the back with a thunderous bang. The women fell and the crowd gasped. To both my brother-in-law's and my own credit, we both rushed in and stood between the deer and the woman. It was then I realized the buck's head was about the same height of my midsection. I cringed at the thought of losing my reproductive powers by a deer in the middle of Japan.

Luckily, no more bucking occurred and we all got the crap out of there.

Nearby was the largest wooden structure in Japan (another temple like structure), which was awesome, but lost a little bit of its lure with me still being hyped up from the attack of the deer.

It was then towards Tokyo that we once again headed. On our way we hoped to make a pit stop to see Mt. Fuji in the distance, but it had begun to snow again and those plans were abandoned.

We saw a bit more of the city this time, including some crazy cheap electronic markets, the atrociously ugly Tokyo Tower, a gaggle of Cosplay kids dressed like sleazy nurses, Goth rockers, and a variety of other anime characters.

Japan was amazing, but we were all quite ready for home and its comforts. Due to some communication errors (and a national holiday), we were unable to pick up our new tickets until the day we were to leave. We awoke quite early and headed to one side of Tokyo to pick up the tickets so we would have time to make it to the other side of the city and the airport. We made it to the ticket office just as it opened, only to find out they had sent a messenger to take the tickets to the airport.

A couple of hours later we were in the airport standing in line behind a group of sumo wrestlers. It was quite a hoot to watch all of the various people walk in through the door to be surprised and excited over the sumos. I would have expected the wrestlers to be old hat to most of the Japanese, but even they went crazy for them.

Eventually we made it to the front counter and asked for our tickets. We paid our money and then were surprised to see only one ticket for my wife, but none for me. We asked about this and were assured they would find mine. A few calls later and we were told there was no ticket, nor any record that I had applied for a lost ticket. They apologized, but told me I would have to buy a new ticket to the tune of $900.

For the record, that's more than we paid for two tickets in the first place. They did upgrade us to Business class, but I took note that I was still sitting next to the wife, which, of course, means I paid for my seat twice.

I paid my way, and took it from behind like a good little boy. I'd like to say we got to China and the airline treated me right with some sort of refund, but three weeks later, about a dozen phone calls, and two more trips to the agency has only gained me more anger and confusion.

Japan was absolutely wonderful, and though it is now tainted with that ticket fiasco, I'd still highly recommend it to all travelers.

No comments: